Space rock may strike Earth in 2048

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Melbourne, Dec 30: An asteroid that can wipe out life for 6000 sq km and leave a two-km-wide crater if it ploughs into the Earth has been discovered by scientists.

The asteroid, measuring 130 m across and travelling at 70,000 kmph, would cause huge devastation if it hit the planet. The space rock named '2007 VK184' is 90 million km from Earth and could strike in 2048. It has earned a rare hazard rating of 'one' on the Torino scale, the international barometer of space object impact risk.

Asteroid experts had warned of the tremendous damage such a collision would cause but were hopeful the risk of impact would diminish as more was discovered about VK184's path.

The probability of an impact would come back down to close to zero, The Age quoted astronomer Gordon Garradd as saying.

VK184 had been observed for only 35 days and, given its distance from Earth and the long time until a possible impact, more readings were necessary to determine if a collision was a possibility, he said.

NASA's Near Earth Object Program website said the space rock had a 1-in-3030 chance of hitting the planet in 2048.

Scientists estimated that in case the object struck the Earth, it would cause three times more destruction than the asteroid that hit Russia in 1908.


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